June 28, 2012 / 5:45 PM / 5 years ago

Alberta comes close to surplus on strong revenue

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - The Canadian province of Alberta came close to running a budget surplus in the last fiscal year, posting a much smaller than expected deficit of C$23 million ($22.3 million) due to strong petroleum lease sales and higher than expected royalties from the oil and gas industry.

Alberta Premier Alison Redford (R) looks at Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger as he answers a question regarding Thomas Mulcair after their Western Premiers' Conference in Edmonton May 29, 2012. REUTERS/Dan Riedlhuber

The province, the largest oil exporter to the United States, said revenue in the fiscal year that ended March 31 rose to C$39.2 billion, up C$3.6 billion from initial expectations, boosted by higher than expected oil prices.

Alberta, the only Canadian province or territory that has no public debt, said its gross domestic product rose 5 percent last year.

“Our economy is strong and our bottom line is healthy,” Doug Horner, the province’s finance minister, said in a statement. “That said, we are not immune to the effects of global economic uncertainty. Fluctuating oil prices and exchange rates, along with general market volatility are a cause for concern.”

Expenses last year were $39.3 billion, C$300 million higher than forecast.

In February, Alberta Premier Alison Redford estimated a budget shortfall of C$1.32 billion for the last fiscal year, but oil prices, forecast to average $89.40 a barrel over the year, in fact averaged $97.93 a barrel.

She also forecast a deficit of C$886 million for the current fiscal year.

($1=$1.03 Canadian)

Reporting by Scott Haggett; Editing by Peter Galloway

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